Level: beginner

We use can and can't to talk about someone's skill or general abilities:

She can speak several languages.
He can swim like a fish.
They can't dance very well.

We use can and can't to talk about the ability to do something at a specific time in the present or future:

I can see you.
Help! I can't breathe.

We use could and couldn't to talk about the past:

She could speak several languages.
I couldn't see you.

Ability: can and could 1


Ability: can and could 2


Level: intermediate

We use could have to say that someone had the ability or opportunity to do something, but did not do it:

She could have learned Swahili, but she didn't want to.
I could have danced all night. [but I didn’t]

Ability: could have 1


Ability: could have 2


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Submitted by Mohammed Anas on Tue, 17/09/2013 - 07:26


Hi Team

First of all I would like to tell you, You guys are doing excellent job, this is very helpfully to improve our English skills.

I have a question for you guys could you help me to clear this?

I used to watch many people using " He is gone and  He is excited"

I know that gone and 'ed' should be used for past tense.

Is that right to use "is " after past tense, If so, could give a more examples and 

tell me what kind of sentence is this?



Hi Mohammed Anas,

Thanks for your kind words - it's always great to hear that people like LearnEnglish.

In the sentence you mention, "He is gone and he is excited", both gone and excited are working as adjectives that come after the verb be. "He is gone" is another way of saying "he is not here now".

It's true that gone is the past participle of go, but if it were working as a verb here, it would be "he has gone" instead of "he is gone". Past participles are often used as adjectives. You can see more examples on our -ed and -ing adjectives page.

I hope this helps you understand. If it's still not clear, please ask again.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by loradelacia on Wed, 21/08/2013 - 13:37


Thank you for this lesson 

Submitted by sarah chettibi on Sat, 03/08/2013 - 20:08


really i benefit from this website

Hello sarah!

I'm happy to know you find the lesson and our website useful. I hope you keep coming back!


Best wishes


Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sarah chettibi on Sat, 03/08/2013 - 20:06


Thank you for this lesson and infomation

Submitted by Orangzaib on Thu, 20/06/2013 - 09:50

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Thanks for telling people about us - it's very important to us that everyone gets the opportunity to learn English via our website.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Shadhiya!


Well, you should see this website as a library – just borrow whatever interests you! A good place to start is our Elementary Podcasts. These are short radio shows about different topics. To help your listening, vocabulary and grammar, you can listen to them, read the transcripts, and do the exercises. You can talk to other learners in the comments, too. There is lots of other material in our Listen and Watch section as well. If you want to work on grammar, take a look at our grammar section.

Don't forget that we also have a search box. Put a topic you're interested in into the box – like 'meeting people' or 'the present simple' - and you'll get a list of pages about that topic.

We have a lot of different levels on the site, so don't worry if something is too hard – find something easier, and come back to it later. Just try to look at something every day!

Hope that helps,

Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team


i study at Iran language institute and I'm at level elementary 3.

i was looking for podcasts good for levels lower than elementary (basic)but i couldn't find them.

please instruct me to understand the levels .

sorry for bad writing



Hello ahmadrexa,

Have you tried Series 3 of our Elementary Podcasts?  That series is a little easier than Series 1 and 2, so it might be just what you're looking for.  You can also download the transcript through the 'Instructions and downloads' link, and that will enable you to read while you listen, or read before you listen (and check some of the vocabulary), which will make the podcast easier to understand.  Then later you can try the same or other podcasts without the transcripts and see how your English is improving!

I hope that helps answer your question.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by asadee on Sat, 15/06/2013 - 05:48


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Submitted by Cerenceren on Wed, 15/05/2013 - 12:04

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Submitted by dg7 on Sun, 05/05/2013 - 09:44


Hello, and thank you for your great grammar site.

I read this from the examples:

Past tenses are more polite:

Dan would help you if you asked him.

This is a conditional, right? Isn't it located in the present and future time? So, using the past tense in the "if" clause, followed or preceded by a "would" clause, makes a conditional in the present or in the future. Am I correct? Please, tell me. :-)




Hello dg7!


Yes, you are broadly right - but it makes only one type of conditional, one where we are talking about things which are possible, but not necessarily real:

If I had a million pounds (I don't), I would...


For things which are real, we still use will:

If it rains tomorrow, I will take the bus.



Jeremy Bee

The Learn English Team

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Submitted by hawaj on Sat, 22/09/2012 - 09:15


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Submitted by roxxana1371 on Fri, 31/08/2012 - 12:27

Hello I have a question When we use" we must meet again soon" Doesnt it mean im forcing that person to meet me soon?

you are right roxxana but i think /we must/ it is impolite one instead of using that you could use we should thats polite one


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Submitted by Sikandar Khan on Sat, 07/07/2012 - 11:42


very good exercise...

Submitted by Yared on Fri, 18/05/2012 - 07:30



I'm in trouble with few things and I'm looking for answers since I didn't find anything in grammar:

1. Can and could for making requests.

Can is informal and could is the formal one?

When we answer a request such: could you drive me there? Is it correct to use "yes, I could" for affirmative answer and "no, I couldn't" for negative?

2. Would and could for making requests.

Is there a difference between these two?

What about their answers? Is there any rule?}

I appreciate so much your answer ASAP.



Hi Yared -


Good questions – I'll see if I can help!


In answer to question 1, yes, that's pretty much correct. Just remember that formality isn't on/off like a  light switch – it's  more like a line from very informal through to very formal, with can more towards informal, and could more towards formal. To answer the request, could sounds a little strange – and we only use could not for strong emphasis. Instead, just Yes (of course, sure) or No (usually with I'm sorry) are the best answers. 

For 2, I would say would +you+ verb is a little bit stronger than could +you+ verb. To answer, again, there's no real rule – but because there's no negative here, anything with Yes will be fine for the affirmative, and again no (with an apology or reason) for the negative. 


Don't forget you can use our search function to find more information – like this page on can and could.


Hope that helps, and enjoy the rest of the site!


Best Wishes


Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by abdo22 on Mon, 07/05/2012 - 12:53


thank you for exhalent grammar

Submitted by Arthur_91 (not verified) on Wed, 21/03/2012 - 20:01


Really nice this review! :)

Submitted by Hallol on Sat, 10/03/2012 - 12:14


check answers doesn't work

Hello Hallol,

It isn't available in True/False exercises; you should use 'See Answers' instead.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by seungeun724 on Mon, 02/01/2012 - 08:09


I have a question about the quiz NO.9


-You should speak to a lawyer

-You may speak to a lawyer


What's difference with both of them?

I think the first on is 'advice', and the second one is 'permission'.

Am I right?